Senators Kirk, Shaheen, Toomey Introduce Bipartisan Sugar Reform to Save Illinois Candy Jobs

Sugar Reform Bill Would Protect Jobs, Save Consumers Money; 7,000 Jobs in Illinois Rely on Sugar Industry

WASHINGTON –(ENEWSPF)–February 12, 2015.  U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) today reintroduced the Sugar Reform Act, legislation that would save taxpayers and consumers money by ending the U.S. Sugar Program, which artificially creates high prices for sugar producers at the expense of consumers and Illinois-based candy manufacturers. The program has already cost consumers more than $14 billion since 2008, and since 1997 more than 125,000 jobs in sugar-using industries have been lost.

Candy and confectionery companies employ more than 7,000 people in Illinois. Jelly Belly, Ferrara Pan, Mars, Nestle and Tootsie Roll are just some of the nationwide household names with factories in the state. The bipartisan bill would reform domestic supply restrictions and lower price support levels in order to save taxpayers money, all while still ensuring adequate sugar supplies at reasonable prices.

“7,000 Illinois jobs depend on the sugar industry, but thanks to sugar’s high prices, more than 130,000 American jobs have been lost to countries overseas,” Senator Kirk said. “We need to end Depression-era subsidy programs that cost American consumers more than $14 billion, and work to keep good jobs here in Illinois.”

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for a sweet deal for a small group of sugar producers and processors,” Senator Shaheen said. “This is a perfect example of an outdated government program that’s hurting consumers, putting taxpayer dollars at risk and costing jobs. It’s time we acted on this bipartisan reform effort and put money back in the wallets of American families and businesses.”

“It’s time to end the government’s wasteful sugar program. This flawed policy is corporate welfare at its worst and hurts not only candy companies and food manufacturers, but also the families who end up paying higher costs for food made with sugar,” Senator Toomey said. “This bipartisan reform would stop the federal government from paying wealthy sugar processors from the pockets of American taxpayers. I believe that this Congress can and will eventually rein in our flawed sugar policies.”

The Kirk-Shaheen-Toomey legislation is cosponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

The Sugar Reform Act maintains the basic sugar program while making commonsense reforms that protect the wallets of American families and businesses. The legislation repeals unnecessary provisions added in 2008 that unfairly benefit the sugar industry at the expense of consumers. The 2008 provisions led to a nearly $300 million bailout of the sugar industry in 2013 when the federal government was forced to buy hundreds of thousands of tons of sugar to protect sugar processors from default who borrowed taxpayer dollars under the current price-support program. The Department of Commerce has found that for every job saved by the unfair sugar program, three manufacturing jobs are lost.